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Torture unpunished.

Byline: The Register-Guard

One of the sorriest chapters in this country's fight against terrorism was the Central Intelligence Agency's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" - in plain language, torture - to obtain information from suspected terrorists.

On Thursday, the Justice Department announced that an investigation by federal prosecutor John Durham into CIA interrogations of detainees has ended without criminal charges.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Durham's review of the treatment of 101 detainees in U.S. custody since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks produced insufficient evidence to bring charges. The decision not to do so in the deaths of two terrorist suspects, Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi, is particularly troubling.

With Holder's approval, Durham conducted a full criminal investigation into the two deaths. Rahman, who was suspected of links to al-Qaeda, died in 2002 after being shackled to a concrete wall in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. Al-Jamadi died in 2003 in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison, where a military autopsy ruled the death a homicide. The report said he died an hour after he was placed in a shower stall, a sandbag over his head, arms chained to a barred window overhead.

Getting at the truth was no doubt hard for investigators. The CIA destroyed evidence, including videotapes of interrogations, and resisted the release of critical information. That may explain why Holder announced that "the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt."

After taking office, President Obama said he preferred to "look forward, not back" on the detainee abuses that occurred under Bush. But it was - and is - important for this country to move forward with the knowledge an effort has been made to reckon with the wrongs of the past.

Thursday's announcement failed to provide that reassurance.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 1, 2012
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